Dementia talks in Canberra dispel fears by Grahame Coote

Imagine the fear in some elderly Filipina – perhaps your mother or aunt – when some well-meaning nursing staff tells them to “strip off and get in the shower.” Is this how they would normally bathe? In front of strangers?

Imagine worse, if they strongly protest, maybe in their own language, and the nurse tries to take their clothes off them.

Imagine how they might react and how that reaction could be taken as aggressive behaviour. In a worse-case scenario it could result in abuse.

To care for the elderly and, in
particular those with dementia, with dignity and respect, one must recognise cultural differences.

Dementia awareness talks held recently in Sydney and the Central Coast have now been warmly received by the Filipino community at ACT Filipino-Australian Social & Cultural Association in the nation’s capital.

Ella Magallanes Martirez (pictured left) and members of the Dementia Café team from My Home Living Care (MHLC) travelled to the southern city as part of a dementia-awareness program funded by the Commonwealth Government,

Attendees talked about how hard it is for people with communication difficulties such as that associated with dementia.

Ms Martirez said this can often be alleviated by writing a simple Care Plan to record a person’s likes and dislikes.

If someone is not used to eating Australian food and doesn’t touch their meal in a care facility, it might not mean they aren’t hungry or that they are being stubborn. Someone who likes to watch TV when they are going to sleep will not sleep well in quiet darkness, and vice versa.

In order to care for people we love, the way they like to be cared for, we need to know what their preferences are and a Care Plan can be a great assistance. But for dementia patients, it needs to be done early while they are able to communicate clearly.

The Dementia Café project is run by My Home Living Care which also hosts a “Dementia Hotline” phone service and website to provide additional support. Sessions are run by Filipinos for Filipinos; in a relaxed social environment with food and refreshments.